Twin Cities mayors raise awareness of high blood pressure prevention

Mayors Rybak and Coleman received blood pressure screenings at Minneapolis Fire Station 19.

Mayors R.T. Rybak and Chris Coleman spoke about lowering blood pressure at Minneapolis Fire Station 19 at the University of Minnesota today as part of the newly declared âÄúStop Drop and ControlâÄù month in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The designation of July as an awareness month in the Twin Cities is part of a national campaign called Stop, Drop and Control High Blood Pressure. The campaign is trying to decrease high blood pressure in firefighters, among whom 45 percent of on-duty deaths are caused by heart disease, President of the Minnesota Professional Fire Fighters Tom Thornberg said. Rybak said we have to keep those who keep us from harm from being harmed themselves. âÄúWe want them to lead by example,âÄù Coleman said of the firefighters. Coleman also said that it was in all MinnesotansâÄô best interest to keep active and monitor their health. Although Minnesota has an overall high fitness level, 21.9 percent of Minnesotans have high blood pressure, Daniel Duprez, a professor in cardiovascular medicine at the Medical School said. He said Minnesota pays about $20 billion a year for inpatient care in heart attack and stroke. âÄúIâÄôd rather spend a little money to prevent it than a lot to pay for heart attacks,âÄù Rybak said. Thornberg said with health care costs high, it is important for fire stations to provide a local place where people can check their blood pressure for free. Rybak said having free screenings is a good use of public money, and the right thing to do. âÄúThis is not about money, this is about lives,âÄù Rybak said. Rybak, whose blood pressure screened at 138, said he received a healthier rating of 120 when he was tested at a beach party at Lake Calhoun the day before. Ed Ehlinger, director of Boynton Health Service, said this is an example of how blood pressure fluctuates, and the need to check it on a regular basis in order to see trends. Duprez advised exercising on a regular basis, preventing obesity and avoiding salty food to lower blood pressure. But this advice may prove tough for Minnesotans to follow during what Thornberg called the âÄúCoup de GrâceâÄù of the campaign, when firefighters will try to break the Guinness world record for the most blood pressure screenings recorded at Minnesota State Fair on August 28.